For Formula One to resolve its current moment of crisis, a balance needs to be found between the haves and the have-nots, crudely delineated by those who sit on the F1 Strategy Group and those who were left out in the cold when all the best deals were done.
Despite the best intentions of the FIA, the cost cap that was supposed to come into being next season was dismissed by the Strategy Group, and attempts to restore cost controls through regulatory change appear to have faltered. The big teams submitted their proposals – which were described as a joke by FIA president Jean Todt – and the small teams have since submitted theirs. But with the 30 June deadline fast approaching, it looks like little will happen next year.
But there is another deadline set to expire on 30 June, and it is one that could prove very useful to the smaller teams if they choose to use it to their advantage.
When Lehman Brothers collapsed the investment bank's assets were passed over to LBI Group, a holding company whose task it was to sell off said assets and use the money generated to pay off creditors. At the time of the crash Lehman had a 15.3 percent stake in Formula One, although three percent has since been sold to the Teacher Retirement System of Texas in late 2012, leaving 12.3 percent to be divested.
At the time of the assets being taken over by LBI it was agreed that the Lehman stake in F1 would be sold by 30 June 2014.
Given that it is a lack of funding that is currently hampering those teams not on the Strategy Group, expecting them to raise hundreds of millions of pounds to buy into Formula One is a very big ask. But it is not impossible.
CVC's years of profiting from the sport have shown that there is money to be made for financiers in Formula One. When Lehman Brothers were still active, F1 was one of their best performers, giving investors sizeable and regular returns. There is no reason why a coalition of smaller teams willing to commit long-term to Formula One could not find a funding arrangement with an investment bank willing to buy into the sport with them.
A 12 percent stake is not to be sniffed at. While far from a controlling interest, the smaller teams would have the right to push for a seat on the board, giving them the opportunity to influence the sport from a position of financial influence. Money talks everywhere, after all, but in Formula One it screams.
By Kate Walker
Kate Walker is a senior F1 writer for Crash.net. A member of the F1 travelling circus since 2010, she keeps an eye on the behind the scenes wheeling and dealing that makes Formula One a political melodrama.